A Poem by a Plumber, 2021
Water pump, iron, copper, brass, porcelain, enamelled containers, hand towel, textile, salt and seawater.
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Heini Aho’s practice is largely based on her own observations. Her art is an interplay with material properties and physical manifestations in which she takes up various types of phenomena in light, sound and movement, and which she then transposes to her installations, sculptures or videoworks. Her art exudes a curiosity and a desire to experiment, and Aho has an ability to playfully accomplish minor miracles that both challenge us and open our minds. For Oasis she has produced a work that puts the focus on water. Her site-specific installation A Poem by a Plumber is the only piece in the exhibition that directly addresses the sea that surrounds us in Ekenäs.
The sea is an element that has been depicted in visual art in numerous different roles and guises throughout the ages. It is a hindrance or an opportunity, a symbol for emotional states and ambitions, it carries memories of historical and political events, and, today, the sea is one face of the global ecological crisis. An underlying idea in Aho’s new work is giving the sea a chance to show a side other than the familiar, horizontal, rippling surface that reflects the sky and the heavenly bodies. She takes the sea for what it is: water. In A Poem by a Plumber she constructs a system in which the sea gets to seep in and be small for a while. Using a water pump and various types of pipes, gutters, nozzles and mechanical parts she constructs a stage for the sea to show off its raiment. Aho’s work is a composite of rhythm and movement in which the water is left to splash about freely and unpredictably. Aho has been inspired by water damage and accidents in which water springs leaks, sprays, drips and flows. Water has a capacity to penetrate even the tiniest of holes and to cause fear, damage and financial loss. Aho turns the gaze in another direction and encourages us to see the flowing water as something liberating. The sea water means that the construction and the metal objects will rust and tarnish, and out on the end of the bridge the way is clear for the water to wash over and splash erratically to then run back down into the sea. It is a dam that has been opened and a pressure that has finally been eased.
When the light and the heat of summer finally come, our own tension also relaxes. We step out into the greenery and take over the outdoors. In our eagerness, we carry out furniture and other objects so that we can spend time and work outdoors. Many projects are begun and remain half-finished, things are left lying around, and lots of temporary solutions and strange compositions appear in our gardens. Aho’s fountain installation is to a certain extent constructed out of ready-mades. It is an assemblage made of familiar objects from our households. Taken together these form an imaginative whole, a tribute to lazy, listless summer days when we let the wind and weather decide what is to happen.
Heini Aho (b. 1979) lives and works in Turku. She graduated with an MFA from the Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki, in 2015. She has had solo exhibitions at Galleria Fikka, Porvoo / Galerie Anhava, Helsinki / Titanik, Turku / Forum Box, Helsinki and Small Projects Gallery, Tromsø, Norway. She has taken part in several group exhibitions both nationally and internationally. Her work is, for instance, in the following collections: Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Saastamoinen Foundation, HAM Helsinki Art Museum. Aho was awarded the William Thuring Foundation’s main prize in 2016. She is a member of the Videokaffe artist collective.